Classroom funding cuts
By By Adam Prestridge
Statewide proration has educators scratching their heads wondering how they will provide for their classrooms this school year.
Escambia County Superintendent Billy Hines said state allocations for teacher materials and supplies have been completely cut following Gov. Bob Riley’s proration increase from 9 percent to 11 percent last week.
In the past, every teacher in Escambia County was allocated $400 for the purchase of materials and supplies for his or her classroom each year. Hines said he confident some of the veteran teachers have plans in place for the start of the school year, but fears shortages a few months into the school year.
Hines added that some teachers might have limited funds remaining from those allocated in last school year’s budget.
Hines said those teachers with money left have until Sept. 30 to spend the money or it’s gone.
For Escambia County Middle School Principal Zickeyous Byrd, the cuts add up fast.
Byrd said, although tough, he is depending on teachers to step up and help in purchasing materials to help in making their classrooms more “conducive learning” environment.
Schools are also relying on parents more than ever to fulfill student supply lists.
Chief School Financial Officer Julie Madden said that the upcoming budget, which takes effect Oct. 1, also has no money earmarked for classroom instructional support per teacher unit including student materials ($525), technology ($350), library enhancement ($200) and professional development ($90).
Common purchase allocations, $200 issued to each school per teacher, were also cut statewide for the upcoming fiscal year. Hines said expenses such as copier lease payments and payments for other equipment are paid though common purchase allocations. Without funds may make operations difficult for school administrators.
Byrd, who was punching away at his calculator trying to make ends meet Thursday afternoon, said he has been reviewing service contracts and eliminating those he can in hopes of saving some much-needed money.
Byrd added that he pays about $600 per month for the lease agreements for three copiers, which is nearly $8,000 per year. He said he wouldn’t be surprised if he has to cut down to one copier for the entire faculty.